How to Choose Your Muslin for Draping

When I started draping and designing, I always had difficulty understanding what type of muslin I needed to use to achieve the silhouette I wanted.

I think knowing your material makes you progress 50% easier and faster.
Not only does it take your stress off and lessen your frustration; it makes your work cleaner, more professional and complete.

So today I want to talk about our beloved muslin, where our draping and fashion construction starts. 

The dictionary-definition of Muslin is a cotton fabric of plain weave.
Muslins are made in a wide range of weights from delicate sheers to coarse sheeting.
It comes in a variety of different weights, form and flow. Some are lower quality, some have nicer touch and are woven with even yarns. Some are bleached or unbleached.
Some have stiffer drapes, some have more fluid beautiful drapes.  

Muslin is a versatile fabric & is used for many things from clothing, arts, quilting, home decor, surgery and cheesemaking. Muslin is made from cotton, but sometimes they can be woven with different types of yarns such as silk and Viscose. But muslin weaves are much looser than other cotton types fabrics used for shirting and dresses. 

In the fashion context, “muslin” has become a generic term for a test fitting garment, first draped designed piece or muslin pattern, regardless of what is made from!

Designers use any type of fabric (any leftover fabric that has a similar weight and flow with their actual fabric) for pattern making or sample making, and the fabric used to make the sample is still referred to as a “Muslin, or Toile”.  

Some tips before you use your muslin for draping. 

  • Don’t stress if you don’t have a muslin that is similar to your actual fabric in weight and touch, sometimes nothing else will do but a fabric with a similar hand to your expensive fashion fabric, but generally, a plain lightweight muslin is best for designing, draping and fitting. 
  • ‘Toile’ is muslin in British English. 
  • French designers mostly use Voile fabric (not Toile) to drape as their muslin.
  • When you choose your muslin, pay attention to choose the closest in touch, weight, stretch and the way it drapes with your actual fabric. 
  • Don’t wash muslins before draping, or constructing.
  • Press your muslin before draping, and don’t press your muslin after draping when you want to transfer into pattern. Muslins tend to shrink and it changes your measurements. 
  • Another option, tearing the muslin is one of the best ways to find a straight grain edge. Once you have measured out and torn a piece, then carefully iron the edge smooth so that fluttery rolled edges don’t distract from being able to see the straight grain. Then, Line up your ruler using the pulled threads as your guide and square the fabric, using an L Square ruler. 
  • Consider the large amount of muslin before beginning any draping steps.
  • Garments made of knitted fabrics should be draped in less expensive knit fabric. However, the sample knit must have the same stretch & weight as the selected fabric for the finished garment.
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